How To Be Successful As a Seller-Doer Without Sacrificing Billable Hours

For architecture, engineering, and construction firms, winning business is key. But getting the meeting with the right person and cultivating that relationship over twelve, eighteen, or even THIRTY-SIX months until the request for proposal (or RFP) for the project is released can be nerve wracking and a huge expense of time.

According to SMPS's recent survey titled “Sell. Do. Win Business.,” it is clear the trend in the industry is for more dual role work, or billable staff having additional business development responsibilities. Over the next ten years, the number of seller-doers will drastically increase as the amount of time they will be spending on business development activities rises.

To maintain profitability, seller-doers and business development staff need to be extremely efficient and effective at securing new business from existing and new clients. How do you do it? Here are some helpful tips. 

1. Leverage base analytics and user behavior data.

You and your team have a constant stream of communication going between existing clients and prospects that could be giving you a head start on new opportunities. For example, what if you, a seller-doer, were notified that Susan, the director of design and planning for a major university you have been trying to talk to, was visiting your website. And, let's say that you knew exactly which web pages she was viewing. Let's go even further, and say that you knew whether she opened your e-newsletter, or clicked on anything, downloaded or watched a video?

With the right analytics, you and your team can have clear and highly-actionable insights into who's checking you out and how buyers are behaving with your brand (this is how we do it). This is essential if you hope to stay efficient with your limited time on non-billable work. Being able to focus your time and energy on buyers who are closer to making a buying decision is better than wasting hours of time on a buyer who is not ready to buy, or who you know won’t buy. If you are looking for where start check out our Inbound Metrics To-Do List

2. Implement technology that works for your business, not your industry.

We come across this objection a lot, “I like HubSpot, their CRM and sales tools. It would be perfect for our team and our business but it isn’t tailored to our industry.” Technology is changing and most software companies have realized that they can’t do everything, so they have decided to play nice in the sandbox and allow multiple systems to transfer data back and forth.

The successful implementation and adoption of a CRM or a new piece of software does not depend on whether or not the product was designed for your industry, but whether the products you use simplify your marketing or sales workflow. Here are 4 questions you should ask about your CRM. 

3. Simplify and automate personal communications.

Supporting the seller-doer can be easily done if you arm them with the right tools. Business developers typically have a handful of go-to emails that they use for a follow up to a meeting, scheduling lunch or coffee, or the ever-popular “just checking in” email.

Taking the time to create these emails for all their contacts is time-consuming and, to be honest, not the best use of your seller-doer's time. Instead, recreate these emails as a flexible template that can help a seller-doer use best practices and be efficient, meaning they are back to being either billable or highly valuable in the sales process. 

4. Personalize automation.

With user data, you can personalize content— and we're talking about personalization beyond using the person's first name in your email greeting. With tools like HubSpot, you can actually have content on a web page change based on information you know about a buyer.

For our example, let's use our old pal Susan again— our director of planning and design at a major university. Will she be interested in your latest retail fit-out? Probably not, even if she is looking for a firm to help with a new student center that will have a campus shop. Why? Because it is not PRECISELY what she wants. But, if you can deliver personalized information targeted at her specific situation, you can provide context to showcase unique elements of the fit-out that would be relevant to a university campus.

5. Distribute the right information.

You've probably had your marketing person or team tell you that you really need to focus on Content Marketing. However, you look at the amount of time you're already spending on business development and wonder when you'll be able to get back to your billable work. We've already touched on how your marketing department, whether it's a solo effort or a whole team of people, or a freelancer or agency can create the necessary content, so for now, we'll just focus on distribution.

Typically, content is viewed as blog posts; those blog posts increase web traffic via organic search. In reality, content is more than just blog posts, and those blog posts are much more than a one trick pony when used correctly. For more ideas read our post "The 3 R's of Content Marketing" Let's connect with Susan again. (Susan, we've missed you!) You notice that she is looking at dining hall projects on your website. Now is a great time to send her an email with content. Not just ANY content, but content that's relevant to her user behavior. Remember that presentation you gave at a conference about the future of dining halls on college campuses two years ago? That is a great piece of content to share with Susan. Or how about a blog post with some thoughts on latest design trends for dining. Built right you can have a great Inbound Marketing system to connect with your buyers, at the right time with the right message. 

If you have the content share with buyers who would find it helpful, you will not only help build the relationship, but guide them toward viewing you as a trusted advisor. Bonus? Your information can be shared with the selection committee BEFORE an RFP is even created. Want some help getting started or making your inbound machine run better than ever? Let's chat.

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